Identification and Transgressive Gazing: Paola Gonzaga’s Fontanellato Frescoes






Section 3. European Ovid: Metamorphoses between Centre and Periphery



  • Caroline Koncz Angelo State University


Of all the early modern depictions of Diana and Actaeon, one of the most unusual is located in a small room inside the Rocca Sanvitale, the castle of Fontanellato in northern Italy. On the ceiling, Parmigianino frescoed scenes featuring the Ovidian tale. While much of the imagery is typical of the period, the most famous scene from the myth, in which the goddess Diana catches Actaeon beholding her nude form, is strikingly less so. This article provides an alternative reading of the ceiling’s iconography, one that considers how the room’s patron, Paola Gonzaga, might have interacted with the frescoes. Through the use of methodologies such as gender and sexuality studies and iconography, I argue here that Parmigianino’s imagery was specifically crafted for a female beholder, Gonzaga, granting her the ability to not only identify with the figures depicted, receiving moral instruction from them, but also sensually enjoy them in private.

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Biografia autore

Caroline Koncz, Angelo State University

Assistant Professor of Art History

Department of Visual and Performing Arts

Come citare

Koncz, C. (2024). Identification and Transgressive Gazing: Paola Gonzaga’s Fontanellato Frescoes. Il Capitale Culturale. Studies on the Value of Cultural Heritage, pp. 293–326.